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Cuban news agency's report on changes

The Cuban Council of State released anofficial statement Monday informing of recent changes in the government.These follow President Raul Castro's remarks during the constituentsession of the Cuban parliament on February 24, 2008, on the necessity tocreate a more compact and functional structure of government and a betterdistribution of responsibilities, the statement explains.

According to the official communication, the Council of State agreed torelease Jose Luis Rodriguez Garcia from his duties as vice president ofthe Council of Ministers and as Minister of Economy and Planning andnamed in his place Marino Murillo Jorge, who was minister of DomesticTrade.

Vice president of the Council of Ministers Otto Rivero Torres wasreleased from his duties taking into account that he had concludedpassing on the programs under his supervision to the relevant investmentinstitutions. Vice-president of government Ramiro Valdes Menendez will bein charge of the coordination and control of such programs.

The ministries of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment and EconomicCooperation were merged as the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Investment,with Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz named as minister. Minister for Foreign TradeRaul de la Nuez Ramírez was relieved of his duties, says the report.

The ministries of the Food Industry and the Fishing Industry also merge,with Maria del Carmen Concepcion Gonzalez named as Minister of the FoodIndustry, which will include the activities of the fishing industry.Alejandro Roca Iglesias and Alfredo Lopez Valdes were released from theirpositions as ministers of the Food and Fishing Industries, respectively.

Likewise, the Cuban Council of State decided to release Felipe PerezRoque from his duties as Minister for Foreign Affairs, and promote to theposition current First Deputy Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

The Minister of Finances and Prices Georgina Barreiro Fajardo wasreplaced by Lina Pedraza Rodriguez, who used to oversee global economyinstitutions as member of the Secretariat of the Cuban Communist PartyCentral Committee.

Brigadier General Salvador Pardo Cruz, who was previously the directorgeneral of the military industry conglomerate, was named minister of theMetal and Heavy Industry, replacing Fernando Acosta Santana in thatposition.

First Deputy Minister for Domestic Trade, Jacinto Angulo Pardo, waspromoted to minister.

The Minister of Work and Social Security Alfredo Morales Cartaya wasreleased from his duties and Margarita Marlene Gonzalez Fernandez waspromoted to that position.

Meanwhile, it was decided to appoint former secretary of the Council ofState, Jose M. Miyar Barrueco, as Minister of Science, Technology andEnvironment; And National Assembly Deputy Homero Acosta Alvarez was namedInterim Secretary of the Council of State. Homero's appointment will besubjected to the approval of the National Assembly of the People's Power(Cuban parliament).

Carlos Lage Davila was released from his duties as Secretary of theCouncil of Ministers and the current head of the Revolutionary ArmedForces Ministry's Secretariat, Brigadier General Jose Amado RicardoGuerra was appointed to the post.

The official statement quotes Raul Castro as saying: "institutionalism isone of the cornerstones of the invulnerability of the Revolution in thepolitical arena, that's why we have to keep working on improving it. Wecan never think that what we have done is perfect."

According to the official statement, the current structure will befurther analyzed with the objective of gradually making it even morecompact and efficient.